Philosophy: Dali (a lama?)

Philosophy: Dali (a lama?) April 4, 2007

“Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them.”

-Salvador DaliThis speaks to our reactive tendencies: problem? fix it! So much of our lives consist of ‘quick fixes’ and superficial bandages on problems/mistakes that go quite deep in our lives/society. How does the story in Australia go? They had too many weeds, so they brought in rabbits to eat them, then they had too many rabbits so they brought in snakes (or foxes) to eat them, then they had too many of those, and so on… A common example where I live is people who hate their jobs but love cars and so spend a third of their adult lives miserable for the 5-10% of the time they can spend in their beloved automobiles. And then they’re usually miserable in their cars too!

Rationalize, understand, sublimate… This sounds a lot like Vipassana meditations where we are taught to ‘watch’ emotions, sensations, thoughts, and so on; to not get caught up in them. The goal is to realize that they arise and fall away without any power to control us on their own.

Sublimation is a tricky term here. Given that Dali was highly influenced by the psychoanalytic movement, which is in turn influenced by phenomenology, which goes back to Hegel, I would make the stretch toward his understanding of Sublimation, or in German aufheben:

SUBLATE (aufheben). Also translated as ‘supersede’ and ‘sublimate’. It incorporates the senses of (i) to cancel out, abolish, do away with, or reverse (a judgement), (ii) to keep or preserve, and (iii) to lift or raise up. Sublation connotes progress, by virtue of (i)-(iii): when something is sublated, it is not done away with but retained and preserved in the higher product which supersedes it. Sublation involves mediation and (determinate) negation. Hegel speaks of both concepts and things as sublated. (emphases mine)

Thus, through analysis and understanding, our mistakes become the rungs in our ladder to higher understanding in life. Mistakes are our windows onto our soul. What we discover is, of course, change, potential, and ultimately luminosity and joy. Those without mistakes are, by definition, without soul, without anything sacred.

Dali also said:

“Life is too short to go unnoticed.”

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